OhGizmo! Review: The Yamaha NeoHD – Oh… And A Giveaway Too!

OhGizmo! Review: The Yamaha NeoHD – Oh… And A Giveaway Too!

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By David Ponce

[ The following article is sponsored by Yamaha. The device was provided free of charge, and I am being compensated for the time I took to review the product. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. -Ed. ]

Yamaha’s pretty excited about their new Yamaha NeoHD line of media controllers, and for good reason: it works as advertised. If you’re a certain kind of consumer this device will make you smile. If you’re not, (as I am) it might make you wince but it’s not Yamaha’s fault at all. I’ll explain everything in detail in the review, but out here suffice it to say that the NeoHD media controller does a great job of getting rid of your panoply of remotes and replaces them with a simple graphic-based user interface for controlling just about any media source you decide to plug into the device… and one single back-to-basics remote.

The idea is simple: plug your DVD player, your Playstation or Xbox, your cable box and your DVD player into the machine and relinquish their individual control to NeoHD. The device will communicate with them all via IR blasters attached directly to their IR ports. It’ll also take care of your surround sound, whether it be through your own 5.1 set of speakers, or the included (in my package at least) 2.1 virtual surround set. There are enough connections at the back to accommodate just about any setup.

You might say “Hey, but I got a Harmony remote that does all that!” And I’d say sure, but you’d be missing the point. Read on for all the details, plus find out how to win one of these systems (an $800 value!).

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Aside from being a media controller, the NeoHD packs a bunch of technologies meant to enhance your viewing and especially listening experience. It’ll decode Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS 96/24 and DTS. It has Adaptive Dynamic Range Controlling to make movies easier to hear at low volumes and YPAO (Yamaha Parametric room Acoustic Optimizer) for automatic speaker setup (more on that in a bit). It’s like a home theater system that helps you get rid of all your remotes.

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So, does it work? Well, yes it does. But like I said earlier, this unit is meant for traditional media viewers with DVD boxes and satellite or cable boxes. I had neither, relying entirely on a PC turned media server and Boxee. I download all my media. TV? Download that too. So to test this unit I had to go over to a friend’s house and borrow his stuff for a day. That being said, most people still have DVD or Blu-Ray boxes as well as satellite or cable boxes. For them, the NeoHD is great.

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Here’s how it went down. First you unpack everything and discover a large diagram. And I mean large. It’s meant to make it simple to hook everything up while giving you the best possible connections (HDMI vs. component vs. whatever else). Thing is… I think the NeoHD achieves simplicity later by bunching up all the complicated at setup. That diagram isn’t simple by any stretch of the word. But heck, you sludge through it and get it done. You connect your speakers and attach the IR blasters to your various devices IR ports. Finally, you unfurl the YPAO mic.

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The YPAO mic is great. You place it pretty much where your head is going to be while you watch stuff. And then you turn everything on and proceed with initial setup. If you’re using the 2.1 setup, the device will start emitting a bunch of sounds for a few minutes. What it’s doing is determining the acoustics of your room, listening through the YPAO mic. After that’s done, it’ll be able to bounce sounds off walls, effectively mimicking a 5.1 setup. Sure, it’s not perfect, but let me tell you it sounds pretty darn close.

After that’s done, there are two more steps. The first is to set the TV IR codes. Through on-screen menus you’re prompted to select the brand to help it find the right code, and to test it. This will allow the NeoHD to turn the TV on when you power it on. And the final step is similar to the previous one, but it’s done to the connected devices. So for the DVD player, you select a brand, find a code and test until it works. Same for the cable or satellite box.

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Once you’re setup, you can control everything with the one simple remote pictured above. You get on-screen menus that look just like the image below, which are written in an intuitive language: “Watch, Listen or Play” and you then are able to do just that.

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Conclusion
So that’s really it. The device works. Audio is great even from a 2.1 setup. There’s no need for all those remotes as you can control everything from just one dumb-proof one. It makes everything really, really simple and adds a number of features that aren’t found in all-in-one remotes like the Harmony.

But there are drawbacks. The initial setup is complicated. The IR blasters attached to your devices might ruin your carefully arranged home theater area. And if you have no need for DVDs and cable boxes… the NeoHD might seem obsolete.

THE GIVEAWAY
So, you want to win one of these boxes, an $800 value? It’s easy as pie, just follow the below steps:

Who can enter? US residents, 18 and over only.
How to enter? Leave a comment on this article explaining why you need this (be patient for your comment to load, it must be moderated). One entry per reader; we check IPs.
How is the winner determined? Through a random number generator.
When is the winner selected? In one month, on August 24th, 2009 at 11:59EST.

official sweepstake rules

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85 thoughts on “OhGizmo! Review: The Yamaha NeoHD – Oh… And A Giveaway Too!”

  1. I REALLY need a NEW sound system. I still have a Kenwood El Poco system (along with other various components from the 1980's. Instead of travelling while I was in the Air Force, I built my stereo/entertainment system. It still works (usually), but COME ON! (Please?……..)

  2. I NEED this. I have my first child on the way which means that I finally have to grow up. I'm inconsolable, but this fine piece of AV equipment may help.

  3. I'm overly stressed. Not because I can't handle the 13 or steps to fire up the 360, TV and amp and then set the correct input on the first two and then adjust the volume to play a single video file.

    My wife cant.

    Help. Simplicity will help save my mind.

  4. Wow, this unit is so much better then the crappy HTIB systems I'm considering. First off none have the 3 HDMI ports I need, especially the ones with BD players. If I win this, not only do I get an awesome sound system, but the $$$ I save goes towards buying a good BD player. And one last thing, nobody can ever complain about a confusing remote ever again!!

  5. I need this because I'm closing on my first house in 2 weeks and this would be great for when I throw my housewarming party. It's hard to entertain with my tiny little computer speakers hooked up to my iPod.

  6. I currently use five remotes for my various audio/video components. My wife can't even turn on cartoons for my three year old. I have to set it up for her, and then when my daughter takes a nap, my wife is TV-less. I really need that single easy remote. On top of that, I moved into a new home last year and there's no place to easily run wire for my 5.1 suround sound system. So with no virtual surround capability, I'm stuck with a system that just sounds bad.

  7. The speakers that are built into my TV are better then my surround sound setup. Oh well, since I'm Canadian I guess I cannot win anyways.

  8. First, August 24 is my birthday. Great way to start that day.
    The Neo-HD is awesome! With all those hook-ups and 1 remote! I'm excited!!!

  9. Truth be told, I just read this entire article and the only thing I paid attention to is the big gorgeous shiny dial and the plethora of digital inputs in the back. Maybe that's my typical “Y” Chromosome reaction, but I need this box. The only thing missing for me to love it anymore is a bad case of daddy issues.

  10. Tell you guys the truth, I would love to get my hands on one of these. I'm still running my system through my CD-changer-boombox thing! Loud but old and way obsolete. This would simplify a lot for me!

  11. wow, this is so pretty!! I've got a sound system now, but it's old and clunky and the various parts pieced together result in me needing 3-5 remotes depending on what I'm viewing/listening to…I would LOVE to have one single remote solution.

  12. My system hearkens back from around 1987, and is hardly a match for my new giant TV and entertainment room. Hardly sufficient for the excellent picture, the sound of my current rig just doesn't cut it!

  13. I really do need this. I've just moved to my first new house and its pretty much bare bones at the moment. I'm way behind technologically because I spent almost every cent I had to secure the house.

  14. Its hard to upgrade my tech when I’m a broke college student. It would be nice to have something sexy and new like this rather then some books.

  15. I need this because I believe it solves the issue of bloated AV receivers with too many dials and switches and knobs that are impossible to figure out. This is so long overdue it is not even funny.

  16. Yes, I need this because we have six remotes and the kids (23 and 27) just mess everything up when they want to switch from TV to Wii or dvd/vcr .. you have to walk through a series of button-presses to make it happen, and it's not fun. We've even tried writing it all down and still, nobody gets it but me. I just bought a $99 remote that supposedly will fix all of this, but it'll be a few days before it shows up in the mail.

  17. I need this because I'm building a new living/game room on my house and this would be sweet to put in it and the addition is taking all my money so I can afford anything like this.

  18. i am sophmore in college just got a got a house and a new projector were i live with 8 ppl and we are all avid gamers and love movies this would help us out alot.
    thanks.

  19. I just moved to a smaller apartment (yay for saving money on rent) and now my cheapo bundled subwoofer quit and my speakers get all static-y and the sound drops out when I move them, the volume dial, or the wires.

  20. I need this…

    Well, I need this system for my mental health. See, I do not own a home theater system and yet my friends do. Causing me much mental trauma. Winning this system will alleviate much of this pain and trauma.

  21. Awesome. especially if it does upconvert, I mean I have lots of devices but only 2 have hdmi, and my tv only has 1 hdmi input. if this will upconvert the composite, svideo, and component video to hdmi, its worth the price. And having the virtual 5.1 from a set of 2.1 speaker…. Like I said awesome..

  22. I am a poor college student whose current receiver got blown up by a lightning strike induced power surge a few weeks ago. Translation: God wants me to win this. So gimmit.

  23. I love the idea of scrapping all my remotes (Xbox 360, DVD player, Digital Cable box & Tivo deck) for one system remote. Fantastic!!

  24. I need the neoHD because I have too many remotes. I am using three game systems,surround sound, cable, DVD, and TV. The neoHD would make my life so much easier per the article.

  25. I have been wanting something like this for a few years now. I never wanted to pony up the money for a decent receiver and a decent harmony remote and a decent IR repeater set, all to spend about $800 and have to hope it all works together. Plus, while I love the harmony remote, it seems to confuse everyone I know who isn't a tech-savvy person.

    When I saw the NeoHD come out, I was so happy I hadn't ordered that receiver or the harmony remote – this is exactly what I want. Out of everything, the simple remote is by far the most elegent development in home theater technology (combining existing technology like IR repeaters and a receiver isnt all the stunning, neither is multiple hdmi ports or the 'smart' system that mimics the 5.1 through listening in the room). Why I love it is the fact that it goes above and beyond and now consolidates the controls into a custom menu on your tv, instead of on a remote in your hands. Why this is so great – I go back to my comment above about my friends who aren't tech-savvy. While they cannot use a Harmony remote, they do know how to navigate a comcast menu on the screen. The fact that I can be comfortable knowing my friends and family can use it with ease is great. What is even better is that the technology is NOT in the remote, so that if I wanted to, I could order another one (or two), if one breaks or I want to just have a backup if it is somehow misplaced.

    Top all of the consolidating and simplicity and some decent speakers with a good looking device, and I believe you have found the market that I (and many others reside in) – they dont want to spend $2000 on home theater equipment, but they would be willing to step up from the $300 range to 2-3x that amount and won't feel bad justifying to, say, a significant other. Especially considering it will be the first item you buy that actually helps them use the tv and all the components (in my case, maybe not in yours).

  26. I bought my stereo system I had before I got married and my wife told me it was the last peice of gadgetry I would buy for awhile. It's now crackling and gaining some years on it. It's been great service to me but would love something to control all my audio/tv/gaming sound with ease and have a great new sound system!

  27. I need this yamaha because I'm finally getting on my feet. I'm moving into my own apartment for the first time in a really long time on Aug 25th. My ex husband ruined my life to the point where I had to live with my mom for the last few years. It has been pure torture. This would be a great house warming present for my new apartment. Not to mention a nice reward for getting my stuff together (aside from the reward of getting away from my mom….lol). I love her but geeeeez!

  28. I really need the newHD system because I have 4 remotes on my coffee table. To play the Wii, DVD or TV, i have to remember which input to use for the Audio in the stereo, and which input to use for the video on the TV. It is a pain.

  29. NIce review. I need a NeoHD for domestic tranquility because my wife gets SO mad when she can't make the DVD player work using the 4 separate remotes we must use now (and to get the wires out from under the rug).

  30. But can you use a Harmony remote on it if you so choose? I know that might defeat the purpose…

    I totally need one, b/c I have 6 remotes and HATE getting up to turn the volume knob on my compuiter speakers to change the TV volume! My legs are exhausted!

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